FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A California teenager accused of molesting and drowning a 4-year-old neighbor boy and hiding his body in a clothes dryer was convicted of first-degree murder Friday.
A judge also found 15-year-old Raul Castro guilty of lewd and lascivious conduct and sodomy. The judge found Castro not guilty of kidnapping.
Castro was tried as an adult in the October 2009 killing of Alex Mercado. Castro was 14 when he drowned the preschooler in a bathtub after the child said he would tell his mother about the sexual assault.
The Mendota teen confessed in taped interviews with detectives to sexually assaulting and killing the boy.
Castro's defense attorney, Barbara Hope O'Neill, argued the teen was mentally ill and did not intend to kill Alex. O'Neill based her argument on the testimony of a psychiatrist who said Castro's mental illness led him to disassociate with reality.
The doctor testified that Castro has a history of depression, suicidal behavior, hallucinations, bipolar disorder and anxiety. He also said the teen had suffered physical abuse as a toddler by his mother's boyfriend. Castro had an out-of-body experience as he killed and sexually assaulted Alex, psychiatrist Avak Albert Howsepian said.
But prosecutor Robert Romanacce challenged the doctor's credibility. The murder was premeditated, the prosecutor said, and Castro was in a clear state of mind at the time.
A judge decided the case after Castro waived his right to a jury trial.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 24.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
The Del Mar International Horse Show will feature Olympic gold medalists, celebrity equestrians and local riders competing for nearly $300,000 in prize money.
The Mega Millions jackpot for Friday night's drawing hit $900 million on Wednesday after no one matched all six numbers Tuesday.
Women-owned businesses are growing at a rate faster than you can imagine and on October 19th, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) will host a free networking event for women.
Hillcrest residents on Tuesday gathered at a community forum to voice their concerns about the neighborhood’s growing homeless crisis.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on Tuesday released a ceremonial gunfire noise advisory for Wednesday, October 17th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again for Friday, October 19th, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The City of Chula Vista honored a pair of Parks employees who stepped in to save a family from a house fire.
The Yes on Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Campaign hit the road Wednesday for two weeks of "Rush Hour Rallies."
Warm temperatures will continue warming up through the weekend. Santa Ana wind event will produce low humidity and gusty winds. Offshore flow will weaken Wednesday.
A 12-year-old girl who went missing from her San Diego foster home has been located, police reported Tuesday night.
A rescue center says California sea lions are coming down with a potentially fatal bacterial infection in near-record numbers.